The appropriate representation of the photomask in the simulation of wafer lithography processes has been shown to be of vital importance for 14-nm and below . This task is difficult, since accurate optical metrology and physical metrology of the three-dimensional mask structure is not always available. OPC models for wafer patterning comprise representations of the mask, the optics, and the photoresist process. The traditional calibration of these models has involved empirical tuning of model parameters to CD-SEM data from printed photoresist patterns. Such a flow necessarily convolves the resist effects and it has been difficult to reliably obtain mask and optical parameters which are most representative of physical reality due to aliasing effects. In this work, we have undertaken to decouple the mask model from the photoresist process by use of the ZEISS Wafer-Level CD (WLCD) tool based upon aerial image metrology. By measuring the OPC test pattern mask with WLCD, the mask parameters in the OPC model can be tuned directly without interference of resist effects. This work utilized 14-nm,10-nm, and 7-nm node masks, and we demonstrate that the use of such a flow leads to the most predictive overall OPC models, and that the mask parameters resulting from this flow more closely match the expected physical values. More specifically, the mask corner rounding, sidewall angle, and bias values were tuned to the WLCD data instead of the wafer CD SEM data, and resulted in improved predictive capability of the model. Furthermore, other mask variables not traditionally tuned can be verified or tuned by matching simulation to aerial image metrology.
Ao Chen, Yee Mei Foong, Thomas Thaler, Ute Buttgereit, Angeline Chung, Andrew Burbine, John Sturtevant, Chris Clifford, Kostas Adam, and Peter DeBisschop, "Effective use of aerial image metrology for calibration of OPC models," Proc. SPIE 10147, Optical Microlithography XXX, 101470Y (Presented at SPIE Advanced Lithography: March 02, 2017; Published: 24 March 2017); https://doi.org/10.1117/12.2258632.
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